Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kitties and Quilts/Like Peas and Carrots

I am an animal lover.  If it were up to me, I would have a zoo, but my hubby has some say in things around here, so I have learned that we must limit our 4 legged friends around the house.  I grew up with several cats and dogs, much to my father's dismay.  But he couldn't say no to me as I brought several strays home.  As an adult, I have limited our home to the feline variety.  (Even though the neighbors dog thinks she lives here at least part time)  Right now, we ONLY have 3 cats.  My kids have dubbed me the crazy cat lady.

There is a recurring them in some of my quilts........cats!  If it's not cat quilts, it's cat fabric.  There's the quilt that I made for the Dubuque Humane Society Auction.
There's the quilt that I made just because I liked the kitty theme and actually quilted the names of my 4 cats in it.  (Our cat, Mihouse, is now in kitty heaven)

My shadow kitty wall hanging that ended up going to the Dubuque Humane Society also
My paper pieced kitty that you have already seen that I made for myself and the Dubuque Humane Society.
Not to mention the numerous quilts with kitty fabric included in them.  (One reason why I LOVE Laurel Burch fabric.  Bright colors AND cats!)

My cats, Bart, Krusty and Patches, love to curl up in my quilts, finished and in progress.  I have gotten to the point where I must keep my sewing room door shut when I'm not in there working.  Otherwise, they will make a nest in my quilt that I'm working on or dig through the batting and nest in there. 

A few years ago, hubby asked if I would make a quilt that he could use to nap with in command central.  (That would be his recliner!)  I was ever so happy to accommodate a request, I obliged.  So I made him a quilt from the variable star pattern.
Not only only has hubby claimed this quilt for himself, but one of my 4 legged boys, Patches, has also claimed this quilt.  Patch, somehow last summer tore his Achilles tendon and was in a little kitty cast for about a month.  So every night hubby would carry him downstairs and sit in the chair with him and the quilt.  (For a guy who really didn't like cats when we got married, I have converted him!!! )  They would sit for hours while Patches got his rubs for the evening.  I guess that Patch must have enjoyed his nightly rubs, and he has now come to expect it.  But the funny thing is, Patch now looks to see if hubby has the quilt when he is in the chair.  If he doesn't, Patch gives him a look of disdain and goes to the couch.  When hubby gets the quilt, I'll tell Patch that daddy has your blankie, go get your rubs and he immediately runs and jumps in hubby's lap.  Whoever said that animals are dumb and don't know what we say to them, never actually had a cat.  Here is a picture of hubby and Patches for their nightly rub with the quilt.
There's nothing better than a quilt and a tummy rub in Patches opinion!

As I said before, I would have a zoo if hubby would let me.  I wonder what Patch and hubby would say about sharing their quilt with a goat?  Well, may not.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ladder of Success/Scrap Squad Quilt #2

Well Scrap Squad quilt #2 is now in the history books!  This again is one of those quilts that looks complicated, but is really very easy.  If you can cut squares and match seams, you can do this quilt.  This is a great quilt for the beginner and again you will amaze your non-quilter friends with this one.  It's called the Ladder of Success.  Here's the original picture........

 The original is a quilt by Judy Martin and is in the April/May edition of Quiltmaker.  The things that I really love about her design are the white inner border makes the inside of the quilt float and I really love the secondary design that you get around the blocks.  Really makes for a fun and happy quilt. 

But I'm never willing to leave things as they are.  So, since I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, on point design, this quilt really lends itself well to that.  But before I could even think that far ahead, I had to decide on what colors to make my Ladder of Success.

Again looking for color inspiration, I figure I would look to my buddies at HGTV.  When I'm not listening to my iPod or now that baseball season is here and my Cubbies are playing, I am addicted to HGTV.  So looking at their color trends on the HGTV website, I found two different color inspirations.  Here were my choices....

Color Choice #1

Color Choice #2

Looking at my stash, here were my choices and decided that I really should make a couple of test blocks to decide which I really loved best.

Both were really neat color combinations, but I had such a vast array of the teal, aqua and orange fabrics, that one was the winner.  And remember my snow dyed fabric that I did over the winter?  It was an awesome fit for these colors.  How cool is it to use some of your experiments in a quilt?

With my color scheme figured out, it was time to decide the on point part of my quilt.  Deciding that it was time to really make the leap into the 21st century, I decided after Christmas, I would treat myself and purchase the EQ7 quilt design program.  I figured that it would come in very handy doing Scrap Squad.  I could audition my color and design ideas BEFORE committing to all the work that goes into a quilt to see if I really loved it.  (If you could audition all your relationships that easily!!)  Now this is a handy computer program to have, BUT, I have said it before, and I'll say it again, that you really have to be under the age of 25 to be able to say that this program is easy.  I work with Word and Excel on a daily basis and I know enough to be dangerous!  I figured that EQ7 should have a short learning curve for me, but I think I may have over estimated my computer abilities.  Fortunately, the book that come with the program is very well written and as long as I have that by my side, I really haven't had a lot of problems.  Heaven help me if I ever misplace the book!!  So here is my EQ7 design on my computer.  (It's fun to scan the fabrics you are going to use and actually use them in the design.  Neat stuff!!!)

EQ7 rendition of my on point Ladder of Success

Now did my actual quilt turn out anything like my computer generated quilt?  I'll get to that it just a bit.  First I'll share a few tips in the sewing of Ladder of Success.

Matching seams.....This quilt has tons and tons of seams to match.  When I was beginning my adventure as a quilter, I was always baffled by getting my seams to match.  Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I would spend as much time sewing and resewing my patches to get my seams to match.  Here's what I learned and have had great success.  When the directions say to press your seams in opposite directions, that's because you want those two the nest together.  Also pinning the seams is a MUST!  Once your seams are nested together, stick a straight pin through your sewing line on your seam.

Making sure that the pin goes through your seam line on the bottom blocks as well. 

(Excuse the manicure!!!)  After you're sure that the pin placement matches on the top and bottom seams.  Pin on either side of the center in.

Remove your center pic and your are ready to sew!  I have had great success with this method and am accurate probably 95% of the time.  When I'm not, it's because I didn't have the center pin in correctly.  And it's usually just off a smidge.  Whether you tear it out or not is up to you and whether you can live with it being off just a hair or whether it'll make you crazy.

If I had a dollar for everyone of my friends that say they hate binding a quilt, I could probably retire!  I have always liked binding.  Maybe it's because I knew that I was almost finished with a quilt and ready to start a new one.  While soaking up all things quilts on the computer one afternoon, I ran into a podcast by Bonnie McCaffery on machine binding.  I love Bonnie's work and happened to be learning her method on painting faces on fabric at the time.  So I figured that I would take a look at her podcast and check it out.  I tried it out and it is "sew" easy AND fast.  Now if I were going to enter one of my quilts in a show, I would probably still do the traditional binding, but for everyday quilts, this method is the cat's jammies!  You really have to try it at least once.  Now Bonnie can do a much better job at explaining how to do this than I EVER could.  Plus it's a video, so for those visual learners out there, it's great!  Check out it out, the video on machine binding.

Remember my test blocks to decide on my color scheme.  They really came in handy when auditioning how to quilt my Ladder of Success.  Here's some of the auditioning that I did.

As you can see from the second one, I tried several different things and none really tripped my trigger, but I really liked the orange peel design on the first one.  You get a really fun secondary design with this one.  Here's what my back looks like quilted.

My little Nina the Bernina really got a workout on this one.  But I really like the results.

Well I suppose it's time for the unveiling on my Ladder of Success.  I think it looks pretty darned close to my EQ7 vision.
My finished Ladder of Success.  Compared to EQ7...

Pretty amazing how close it turned out!  Well hope that you enjoyed the Ladder of Success and maybe got a couple of useful tips to make your quilt life a little easier.  I'm heading to the sewing room now and working on a new cushion for my porch swing.  It's getting to be that time of the year again.

One more thing before I head upstairs.  Big news in our house.  We are starting destruction/construction on a new basement under our 125+ year old home and an addition on the back of the house too.  That means that I will have a new room for Nina in our basement with tons of room and some extra room on the first floor, so that my Dad can come and visit.  I think that Nina may need a new friend to share her room, so who knows, maybe Larry the Longarm may find some place to share with Nina!!!  Fingers are crossed!!